Leading mental health and suicide prevention groups are expressing concern that the new, shorter number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 988 – will not be ready to handle an anticipated influx of calls when it’s available nationwide next month.

Starting July 16, people seeking mental health services can call 988 to access counselors and response teams at the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Calls will be redirected to the current number, 1-800-273-8255, which will stay operational during and after the 988 expansion.

The new number is intended to make it easier for those in a crisis to reach out to someone who can help, and the federal agency in charge of the hotline expects the number of callers to double from what it was in 2020. But with the more than 200 call centers currently in existence nationwide already stretched thin, mental health groups are worried that 988 could exhaust resources and result in longer wait times and dropped calls. 

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